In 1971, a plane with 92 passengers on board disappeared over the Amazon jungle. During the flight, lightning struck him, the rescue crew could not land – they were circling over the place of the fall, and it was obvious that the survivors of such a catastrophe were not: the plane crashed from a height of 3200 meters and shattered into pieces.
All 86 passengers and 6 crew members were declared dead. However, 10 days later a girl emerged from the jungle – the only survivor in this terrible accident.
In two decades, in the 1960s and 1970s, the national LANSA airline suffered several accidents, which killed more than 200 people. So, in 1966 the plane LANSA 501 crashed in the mountains, all 49 people on board were killed.
Less than 4 years later LANSA 502 fell under similar circumstances – it had 100 people on its board, and two more were already killed on the ground from debris in the fall. So when the LANSA 508 crashed in December 1971 and fell in the middle of an impenetrable jungle, the rescuers were sure that there were no survivors left.
Little Juliana with her parents.
On board this aircraft were 6 crew members and 86 passengers, among whom was ornithologist Maria Köpke from Germany and her 17-year-old daughter Julian (Juliane Koepcke), who literally a day earlier celebrated her graduation at school. They both flew to the city of Pucallpa to meet with Maria’s husband, Juliana’s dad – the zoologist Hans-Wilhelm Koepke, who conducted research in the Amazon jungle.
40 minutes after take-off, the crew saw a storm before them and decided to follow right through – alas, it was because of this decision that a catastrophe happened. The wing of the plane was struck by lightning and the ship collapsed down into the rain forest.
A heavy downpour extinguished the fire that had arisen, and the aircraft itself was scattered in the air in the fall, so that, falling down, the relatively small parts of the airplane were completely invisible from the air under the thick crown of trees. Subsequently, rescue teams often circled over this place, but they could not determine exactly where the plane crashed.
Juliana after the rescue.
Juliana woke up, still strapped to her chair. The clock on her arm showed 9 am, which meant that she was unconscious for almost a day. The girl was alive, but not at all unharmed: she had a badly damaged collarbone, swelling of the eyes, the body covered numerous cuts, the strongest of them was on her leg, and a severe concussion caused the girl to lose consciousness and her nauseated.
For a few days, Juliana left only to recover herself enough to be able to move about. In addition to the severe headache and general shock, the girl was also nearsighted, and her glasses were broken. Fearing to meet a venomous snake, she threw her shoes first in front of her, and only then took a step forward. This greatly slowed her progress, but ensured her from meeting with deadly animals.
However, at first the girl tried to find other survivors. She called mom, but no one answered her. When the girl found several highly studied corpses, her hope to find her mother alive, disappeared. Juliana searched the food for the wreckage environment, but she could only find candy.
With them, she went to the nearest gorge, on the bottom of which flowed a small stream. As it later became clear during the investigation, in fact, 14 more people survived in that catastrophe, but all of them died on the following days before the arrival of assistance.
The knowledge received from her father allowed the girl not to give up and move forward. She knew that the creek would eventually lead her to the river, and somehow along the water, sooner or later she must meet the settlement of people. Moving along the stream was much easier than through the jungle, although the likelihood of encountering poisonous snakes was also higher. Juliana’s wounds, meanwhile, were festering, larvae were planted in them. Unable to eat properly, the girl ate a little that seemed to her safe enough and edible.
Ten days after the disaster, the girl’s desperation reached its climax – from exhaustion and weakness she was ready to give up and no longer go anywhere. When suddenly Juliana saw a motor boat and a nearby canister with gasoline near the river bank. Even earlier than she realized that the boat meant the presence of people nearby, she hurried to the canister with gasoline.
Once her father with gasoline helped their lost dog, which returned with wounds and parasites in it. It was the injured wounds and the worms swarming in them that plagued the girl most all these days, preventing her from sleeping at night.
Juliana poured a wound on her shoulder and leg with gasoline, causing the worms to crawl out. The girl began to take them out one at a time and count them. She counted 35 parasites. She was afraid of going somewhere from the boat-she hoped people would soon come. And she did not go on the boat herself-she did not want people to think that she had stolen the boat.
Juliana was the only survivor in that terrible catastrophe.
Fortunately, in a few hours and the truth came the locals. The girl looked so terrible that they did not even dare to approach her at once – the guest was more like some forest spirit from local beliefs than to a living person. Fortunately, Juliana knew not only native German, but also Spanish, so she was able to explain what had happened to her.
The men took the girl to her village, where they provided her first aid, and then took her another 7 hours by boat to the settlement where the airport was to transport the victim to Pukalpa.
12 days after the disaster, Juliana finally met with her father and was able to get professional medical help. The news of the only survivor quickly spread throughout the country, and journalists began to besiege the hospital, making its way to the ward in all conceivable and unimaginable ways.
The girl was not very much burned by the desire to talk about the experience again and again. She and so had to talk about all the police happened – in particular, it was thanks to her testimony that rescuers eventually managed to find out the place of the crash of the aircraft. Unfortunately, when the rescue team arrived at this place, all surviving passengers were already dead.
Juliana after the rescue.
As a result, Juliana followed in the footsteps of her parents – she studied for a biologist in Germany and later returned to Peru to continue studying the Amazonian forests. At the age of 57, she published the book How I Fell From Heaven, in her memories of that terrible catastrophe. “You know, I was haunted for a long time,” Juliana recalled in an interview on the eve of the release of her biography.
“For several years I was still grieving for the loss of my mother and all those people who died that day. I thought, why was I the only one who survived? These thoughts haunted me for years. And, probably, will always be persecuted. “
Juliana at the site of the crash.
Part of the fallen plane, which local residents used to build the house.